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Energy Efficiency


SOTM 2019 Webinar Series

August 08, 2019
60 minutes with CPower Experts. Energy Insights to Plan Your Year. At CPower, we know that running your organization’s…

2019 State of Demand-Side Energy Management in North America

April 02, 2019

The 2019 State of Demand-Side Energy Management in North America is a market-by-market analysis of the issues and trends the experts at CPower feel organizations like yours need to know to make better decisions about your energy use and spend.

Monetizing Energy Efficiency Projects in PJM

August 03, 2018

In this paper, CPower’s Meg Kelly will explain how organizations can earn revenue for their qualified energy efficiency (EE) projects by offering their permanently reduced demand into PJM’s forward capacity market.

The paper will detail what types of projects qualify for monetization and the best practices for measuring and verifying EE projects so they can earn maximum revenue through PJM.

How Energy Efficient Data Centers Can Earn More Than Customer Loyalty

Data centers are in demand.

The growth of cloud computing and the subsequent challenge of powering big data has led to a data center construction boom.

A 2018 industry profile by Dun & Bradstreet predicts data center space to grow to 1.94 billion square feet worldwide in 2018. Much of the industry’s new construction aims to continue the trend toward energy-efficient buildings, shedding the label of “comatose power drains” issued by the New York Times in a 2012 article that claimed, “data centers can waste 90% or more of the electricity they pull off the grid.”

Since the early 2000’s, data-hosting organizations have sought to discard their profligate reputation by making their buildings more efficient and (if at all possible) environmentally responsible.

While more efficient than their early 21st century iterations, data centers continue to use a lot of electricity–up to 50 times more than standard office spacesand subsequently face the high expense of large-scale electricity consumption.  

Green data centers–those which are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient–aim to lower costs and create a more sustainable operation through improved design and by using more efficient equipment. According to the London-based research organization Technavio, the green data center market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of about 15% by 2021.

Data hosting organizations that have upgraded their existing facilities to be more energy efficient may be eligible to earn money for the permanent reduction of their electric demand.

That’s because the data center industry’s recent push toward a more efficient and sustainable future comes at a serendipitous time when energy markets around the country are working to reduce demand via energy efficiency investments and to integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) onto their energy grids in an attempt to diversify their fuel mixes.

Right now and for the foreseeable future, grid operators and electric utilities in each of the nation’s six deregulated energy markets have created a wealth of incentive programs to encourage commercial and industrial organizations to invest in energy efficiency and to monetize their generation capacity.

Energy Efficiency: Earn money for permanently reducing demand

Organizations that have recently upgraded their data center facilities by way of installing high-efficiency HVAC equipment, investing in more energy efficient IT technologies, improving airflow or data management and more may be eligible to earn money for their energy-reducing efforts.

Energy Efficiency (EE) is the permanent reduction of electrical demand through the installation of efficient systems, including improvements or upgrades to building infrastructure, mechanical systems, existing equipment or new devices.  

In some energy markets in the US (PJM and New England, for example) organizations can earn money for these permanent reductions in demand by partnering with a licensed demand-side management company who can offer these “negawatts” (capacity from conservation rather than power generation) into the Independent System Operator’s (ISO) forward capacity market.

Many electric utilities offer incentives to organizations that have permanently reduced demand through energy efficiency projects.  These opportunities create another revenue stream to either decrease project paybacks or allow for reinvestment for future projects.

Demand Response & DERs: earn money for helping the grid

Most data centers are powered by electricity from the grid, which is susceptible to outages due to the demand for energy outpacing the grid’s ability to supply it.

Data centers can’t afford to be down due to a brownout or blackout for a single second, lest they risk losing their customers forever.

The use of on-site power generation is, therefore, a ubiquitous practice amongst data centers. While primarily seen as a reliability resource of paramount importance, a data center’s generation capacity can also be a revenue-generating asset for organizations that participate in demand-side energy management, particularly demand response.

When the grid is stressed and demand for electricity exceeds supply, the grid operator must work to restore the balance.

Instead of calling for the generation of more energy at great expense to consumers and the environment, the grid operator can offset the imbalance by calling on commercial and industrial organizations to reduce the amount of electricity being consumed from the grid when demand exceeds supply.

That’s demand response–programs that pay organizations to reduce electricity usage during times of grid stress or high energy prices.

For data centers with on-site backup generation, earning money through demand response participation is possible without sacrificing service to customers. That’s because a properly permitted backup generator can play a starring role in an energy curtailment strategy that can lead to significant earnings for data centers.

Read to learn more: “Leveraging Your Generation Assets to Generate Revenue”

When selecting a company to guide your demand-side energy management, it’s important to consider the company’s scope of demand-side expertise. Do they serve the markets where your properties reside? Does the company specialize in one type of demand-side energy management, or is it equally skilled in a wide range of energy asset monetization practices?

Most importantly, a demand-side energy management partner should earn your trust in every aspect of the relationship your organizations share. 

Demand-side energy management is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. No two buildings are alike and every data center organization is unique in its complexities.

Like your business, your demand-side energy management strategy should evolve and refine over time, forever in pursuit of perfection as energy markets continue to change and your needs as an organization evolve.

CPower’s Senior Engineer Ray Berkebile also contributed to this article.  Learn more about Ray and read some of his other posts here.

Learn more about CPower’s extensive experience in the data industry.

Read the entirety of “Monetizing Energy Assets in the Data Center Industry: A Complete Guide for Earning Revenue with demand-side energy management”.

Case Study: City of Virginia Beach

July 11, 2018

Virginia Beach, VirginiaEnergy Manager’s determined pursuit of energy efficiency savings earned the city tens of thousands of dollars in rebates in just a few short years. (Download this case study as a PDF)

THE CUSTOMER: THE CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH

Located where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, the City of Virginia Beach is anything but a sleepy resort town. It is the most populous city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and boasts an economy comprising tourism, national and international corporate headquarters, advanced manufacturing, military bases, and agribusiness.

Besides the beach (the longest pleasure beach in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records), visitors are drawn year-round to Virginia Beach’s many renowned attractions, including:

  • The Virginia Beach Convention Center the nation’s first convention center to earn LEED® Gold certification as an existing building from the U.S. Green Building Council;
  • The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which attracts 650,000 visitors a year and hosts more than 10,000 fish, mammals, birds, and reptiles representing more than 300 species from around the world; and
  • The Virginia Beach Boardwalk, three miles of oceanfront access, bike paths, live entertainment, restaurants, shops, and a 12-ton bronze statue of King Neptune.

Keeping the Convention Center, the Aquarium, and 350+ city buildings running in top shape uses a great deal of energy. That means, Virginia Beach is a city that understands the value of world-class demand-side energy management in municipal operations.

THE CHALLENGE: PERMANENT ENERGY (AND COST) REDUCTION

Virginia Beach’s city government serves its citizens and visitors from more than 350 facilities citywide. By 2010, constant increases in energy costs incurred at these facilities had risen to $20 million a year, a total plagued with “lost” buildings and meter reading errors in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To address this and other issues, including utility billing, Virginia Beach created the position of Energy Manager and hired Lori Herrick, MBA, LEED Accredited Professional, to lead its energy initiatives and manage municipal energy expenditures. With $5 million from the city, an unexpected $4 million windfall from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, and a mandate to conquer the city’s energy challenges—Ms. Herrick went to work.

THE CPOWERED STRATEGY: FINDING READY KILOWATTS

Energy efficiency (EE) projects result in permanent energy reductions, which the city recognizes as arguably the cheapest, most abundant, and most underutilized resource available to local government. With this in mind, Ms. Herrick sought to find out more about an energy program being offered through DMME, the state’s Division of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The program in question promoted energy performance contracts (EPC) to significantly reduce energy costs through energy efficiency measures that meet a guaranteed level of energy savings.

Ms. Herrick began the process of enrolling city facilities in DMME’s EPC programs, but was soon faced with the complex challenges of identifying what facilities, and how many kilowatts, to enroll. Fortunately, she received another windfall. She was introduced to CPower’s champion of Virginia demand-side energy management, Leigh Anne Ratliff.

Ms. Ratliff has worked with DMME since 2007 to offer integrated demand response services on a performance basis with no set up costs to the state. Demand response programs pay organizations such as government agencies for curtailing, or reducing, their electricity usage during times of high demand. Government entities who participate in demand response both save costs on reduced electricity use and earn revenue for their trouble.

As Ms. Herrick soon found out, CPower has an additional strength: the ability to provide complete measurement & verification (M&V) services for energy efficiency projects, necessary to receive utility rebates and credits. More importantly, CPower has unmatched experience in finding additional kilowatts (kWs) all too easily overlooked in already completed energy efficiency projects—and successfully submitting those kWs for even greater returns on the city’s investments.

CPOWERED SOLUTION: FOLLOW THE DATA (AND FIND THE MONEY)

Because the permanent energy reductions resulting from energy efficiency projects can pay dividends for up to four years after completion, Ms. Herrick and Ms. Ratliff set about the task of unearthing four years’ worth of city files to find buried EE gold – kilowatts that others missed. Looking back, Ms. Herrick says, “We were determined… it was kind of a no-brainer, to go through the files of projects we’ve done and submit the information. We were analyzing these projects to make sure the payback was there… They gave us a lot of data that Leigh Anne could use to calculate our benefit to the grid and then give us a check for it.”

From the outset, Ms. Herrick considered no project too big to tackle, working to help the Virginia Beach Convention Center earn its LEED® Gold certification (see below). She also considered no project too small to enroll, at one point submitting a 7kW project. As Ms. Ratliff explains, “If she had it, she sent it. One building got a credit for $52 in 2017. We’re learning on the cost-benefit element of this, but Lori is always looking further, to get every bit out of it that she can. In that way, she’s revolutionized what people put into energy efficiency.”

SPOTLIGHT: VIRGINIA BEACH CONVENTION CENTER

The Virginia Beach Convention Center (VBCC) is the crown jewel among the city’s facilities. It was the first convention center in the state to receive certification from Virginia Green, the Commonwealth’s voluntary campaign to promote environmentally friendly practices in Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industries. As noted above, it is also the nation’s first convention center to earn LEED® Gold certification as an existing building from the U.S. Green Building Council. These certifications are increasingly important in the competitive convention planning industry, where the VBCC competes nationally. Customer awareness of, and insistence on, “sustainable destinations” plays a greater and greater role in siting conventions.

The VBCC is also a shining example of how state-ofthe-art EE projects can enhance a city’s energy budget as well as its national reputation. Nearly all lighting in the convention center is LED lighting, and the HVAC is controlled through a state-of-the-art Direct Digital Control (DDC) system that incorporates an automated demand response program to control spikes in peak electricity demand. The automation limits any impact to convention-goers and still saves energy dollars.

“Together, we developed a process to systematically go through the building to reduce demand with the least impact on customer events.” – Leigh Anne Ratliff

It’s also a shining example of how the city and CPower Engineering worked together to successfully address one of the biggest challenges facing active convention centers: controlling peak demand electricity and total kilowatt usage. Event load-ins and load-outs at VBCC can be particularly problematic because the bay doors open directly from the loading dock into conditioned exhibit space.

“The Convention Center was a very cool energy project, because people in that space change every day,” Ms. Ratliff explains. “Bay doors are open for hours at a time, a lot of bodies and boxes moving in and out. The open bay doors are a significant source of heating and cooling loss. So how do we control that without disrupting loadins and other convention-goers already onsite?”

The first step was to analyze the status of the bay doors during times of peak demand. The Center’s zoned DDC system, which controls the Center’s HVAC, was programmed to prevent the air conditioning from running in the exhibit halls if the bay doors were open. In addition, the DDC system receives power pulses from the electricity switch gears throughout the day. In the next phase, an automated demand response program was integrated into the DDC system. When the system reads that the Center’s demand is getting ready to peak, it automatically implements one of three phases. Phase 1 changes back-of-house temperatures by one degree. If demand continues to peak, it implements Phase 2, which changes back-of-house temperatures by two degrees, all the way to three degrees at Phase 3. This automated program reduces the demand on VBCC’s chillers, which in turn reduces peak electricity demand.

“Our CPower engineers worked with VBCC’s staff to understand how the bay doors and events taking place in the building impact peak demand and usage,” Ms. Ratliff says. “Together, we developed a process to systematically go through the building to reduce demand with the least impact on customer events.”

With its DDC system program finalized and firmly in place, the Convention Center was able to ease demand on the grid, with near-zero disruption to its customers’ activities. In fact, the Center saved an astonishing 15 percent off their peak during its first year. And since the price of electricity peaks along with demand, this translated into significant cost savings that they otherwise would not have been able to attain.

THE RESULTS: $87,000 AND COUNTING

CPower is instrumental in helping the City of Virginia Beach navigate the complexities of PJM energy efficiency credits and paybacks. CPower submitted the uncovered EE data to PJM and earned the city both savings and revenue. For the delivery years 2017 through 2022, earnings from PJM for the city will reach just over $87,000 (see chart), with the VBCC earning $40,000 alone. And the city’s just getting started. “We just got another big round of funding,” Ms. Herrick says, “so Leigh Anne’s going to be hearing a lot from us.”

LOOKING AHEAD: DEMAND RESPONSE

In November, 2017, the Commonwealth of Virginia retained CPower through 2020 to continue to offer integrated demand response (DR) services to state agencies and departments through DMME. Ms. Herrick worked with Ms. Ratliff to identify five city sites they believe could be the most eligible for DR: Judicial and correctional facilities, the Convention Center, the Aquarium, and the central plant. The Convention Center currently participates in CPower’s DR program and earns revenue. The remaining facilities are undergoing audits to better understand their suitability. “DR involves curtailment, and we have to be careful when and how we curtail,” Ms. Herrick says. “That’s especially true of the aquarium. I want to earn revenue for the city, but we also don’t want to be responsible for a fish fry.” There’s no doubt, though, that Ms. Herrick will find a way to make it work. Above all else, she and the city are determined.

CPower will support their energy goals at every turn, with an energy strategy custom-made to meet their unique requirements.

SAVINGS AND EARNINGS: CITY OF VIRGINIA BEACH/VIRGINIA BEACH CONVENTION CENTER

Projects include lighting and green building. Sites include Aquarium, Boardwalk, Convention Center, library, maintenance garages, recreation centers, fire stations, police stations, EMS administrative and training center, and arts center.

City of Virginia Beach

PROJECTS ESTIMATED DR (kW) FORECASTED GROSS $
2017/2018 14 185.67 $14,820.89
2018/2019 13 173.24 $17,869.86
2019/2020 11 170.24 $9,283.28
2020/2021 7 87.17 $2,434.65
2021/2022 2 38.36 $1,865.51
Total 654.68 $46,274.19

Virginia Beach Convention Center

PROJECTS ESTIMATED DR (kW) FORECASTED GROSS $
2017/2018 2 172.52 $13,781.49
2018/2019 2 172.52 $16,374.31
2019/2020 2 172.52 $9,497.01
2020/2021 1 40.95 $1,143.73
Total 7 558.51 $40,796.54

Combined Totals

PROJECTS ESTIMATED DR (kW) FORECASTED GROSS $
Total 54 1,213.19 $87,069.73

 

Download this case study as a PDF

Myths… Busted! PJM’s Capacity Performance Soars to New Heights– and Confirms Its Revenue Potential for You

June 05, 2018

Big news came out of the PJM Interconnection’s Base Residual Auction (BRA), for the 2021/22 delivery year, two weeks ago. Contrary to what most industry experts and trade journalists had predicted, PJM’s Capacity Performance (CP) emergency demand response program did not fail. In fact, we saw offered and cleared Demand Response megawatts (MWs) increase drastically, the highest volume of Energy Efficiency to ever clear a BRA, and prices came soaring back up, shocking prognosticators everywhere.

Although this may all be contrary to the opinions of the majority in the energy industry, it is right in line with what I highlighted in my white paper from October, 2017, “PJM Capacity Performance is Here. Don’t Believe the Myths.” In it, I outlined three “myths” that were clinging to PJM’s CP-only demand response program and shot each one down. Seven months later, the market has proven us right.

It would be impolite to say, “I told you so.” So instead I’ll show you. Here are the three myths that I discussed, and how the results Wednesday’s auction proved each of them wrong.

Myth #1: Demand Response has declined over the last six years.

I called this a “pernicious myth that can prevent organizations from opening a rewarding and potentially substantial revenue source.” The idea was cleared capacity was declining, which meant demand response is declining. Not so, I said. There’s a big difference between cleared capacity and enrolled capacity, and while cleared may have seen recent declines, enrolled was remaining steady and strong, which means DR overall remains strong and will continue to be.

Flash forward to Wednesday. The amount of Demand Response that cleared the BRA was 11,125.8 MW. Not only is that about 3,300 MW more than last year’s BRA (the first for CP-only). It is the highest amount of cleared DR in a BRA since the 2016/17 BRA five years ago. Now it remains to be seen if 11,125.8 MW of DR is enrolled in the 21/22 DY, but it’s well within reason to expect ~9,500 MW to be enrolled, which would maintain the amount of participating DR flat YoY.

Myth #2: New CP requirements make it difficult to participate in DR.

In my white paper I stated that although grid reliability is PJM’s number one focus (and rightfully so), and the new CP requirements imposed on Demand Response customers appear daunting (with higher noncompliance penalties and much longer requirements to perform), the impact on DR should be negligible. The implementation of CP to help prevent PJM from entering into emergency situations should mean less of a need for emergency resources such as Demand Response.

It appears that Demand Response customers are adjusting their mindsets from thinking that they can—or only want to—participate in summer-only emergency programs, to understanding that they do have the ability to be year-round resources. And Curtailment Services Providers now believe that they can support a Capacity Performance DR offering and feel there are sufficient customers that can comply and meet their RPM Commitments. This is evident in that over 2,000 MW more DR was offered into the 21/22 BRA than the 20/21 BRA. The DR industry is becoming more comfortable with the Capacity Performance program.

Myth #3: 100% CP means PJM is moving away from DR.

The RPM is an auction-based model that PJM uses to meet forward demand, and it does so by clearing sufficient capacity needed for reliability at the cheapest cost to load. PJM recognizes and understands the value that Demand Response resources bring to the market. The 21/22 BRA cleared at much higher prices across the RTO than nearly everyone projected. And although the prevailing thought is that many capacity resources adjusted and increased their offer prices, which caused prices to spike and PJM to clear Demand Response and Energy Efficiency resources in their place, nonetheless the need for these resources has been proven.

Despite what you may have been told, Demand Response is not back, folks. It never really went away. At CPower we expect the market and the programs to continue to change. It’s what we’ve always seen and are always prepared to see. And we will continue to adapt every step of the way while finding new ways to help customers reduce their costs and generate revenues to strengthen their energy management strategies.